As teachers in all sectors begin to get to know their classes for this Academic year, many are realising that several children were born prematurely, and this can impact on their learning .
Teacher Toolkit Podcast: Ross Morrison McGill interviews Professor Barry Carpenter about his career in Special Educational Needs.
This interview carries a particular focus on the education of children born prematurely, and interest shared by Ross McGill, as a Father to a pre term son, and Professor Carpenter, as an Educator and Researcher in this area.
“As a children’s story about premature birth, it is unique internationally. Parents of premature babies frequently told me that they did not have a good, or a special story to share with their growing children about their early birth. So, we decided to create a beautiful picture book that would help parents support children born as ‘earlybirds’ to make sense of their early experience,”
This is question I am often asked. My key thought in responding is that these children are often ‘wired differently’ – their brains are not configured as those of a full term infant might be. This does not automatically imply that they will have a learning disability or special educational need, but teachers need to be prepared that that these children may not perceive and deduct from information given, in the ways we usually expect from children.
Indeed, to repeat again the phrase given to me by the mother of a boy born at 24 weeks gestation after observing his first term in school, he is ‘wired differently’ . As a as a Teacher I then have so ask , “so of he is wired differently , in what ways does he learn differently ? And when I know how he learns differently, in what ways do I teach differently?”
Many teachers find the Engagement Profile (http://engagement4learning.com), a useful observational tool to profile neurodiversity in children, particularly as we start a new academic year.
This article may guide and refresh thinking around how we engage children whose learning pathways are different due to prematurity of birth.
Professor Barry Carpenter CBE,OBE,PhD.